Kevin Smith, never one to shy away from incurring the wrath of the masses (e.g. the material that provided the basis for the great Dogma, his enjoyable sequel to Clerks that had fans baying for blood even before seeing it . . . . . . and Jersey Girl), once again decides to upset the applecart and urinate in your cider with Cop Out, a buddy cop movie mixing action and comedy with a Harold Faltermeyer soundtrack that may please people hungrily waiting for a Beverly Hills Cop 4. But is ANYONE hungrily waiting for a Beverly Hills Cop 4?
The plot sees Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan (who is so irritating that even Ghandi would be tempted to bust a cap in his ass) as the two cops who have the kind of buddy love-hate banter familiar from every other buddy cop movie ever. For their personal problems, because every hard-working and rogue cop needs a personal problem, Morgan is convinced that his wife is cheating on him while Willis has to try and be a good father to his daughter for once in his life and sell his prized baseball card in order to pay for the wedding of her dreams. Things get difficult when the baseball card is stolen just as Willis is about to make the sale. This leads to the two cops tracking down parkour-skilled burglar Seann William Scott while they also go about trying to take down some nasty bad guys who have knowledge of where the baseball card is. You see how the elements all crash together? See how hilarity will ensue? Quickfire one-liners and quickfire bullets abound?
That’s what would happen in an ideal world. In reality what we have here is a real oddity. Smith has, from the plotting to the soundtrack to the casual violence, really gone back to the 80s to bring us something that feels like it should have been left there. Willis actually works well here, making something from nothing beside the annoying Morgan. Elsewhere in the cast, Scott completely steals the show despite only being onscreen for about 10-15 minutes in total. Then we have Jason Lee, another great performer sidelined into the small, thankless role as the stepfather to Willis’ daughter and the man who actually acts more like a concerned, loving father than Willis ever seems to. Kevin Pollak is okay as a rival cop but his chemistry with his partner, Adam Brody, is great fun and more entertaining than most of the scenes between Willis and Morgan. The fact that one of the few females onscreen is played by Michelle Trachtenberg should tell you all you need to know about where the focus is here. This is dumb action comedy for the guys.
The baddies come from rent-a-baddie and have no charisma or quirks interesting enough to comment on, nobody else has much to do and that’s your lot. This kind of movie can always work well if done correctly but here it just isn’t. We spend the majority of the runtime with two characters we really couldn’t care less about. Morgan IS an insecure idiot who doesn’t trust his wife while Willis IS a poor father and a selfish git. Why hope for a good outcome for these guys?
What’s worse, especially for a Kevin Smith movie, is the fact that most of the dialogue is so poor. Yes, he can actually shoot an action scene or two but this movie should have been filled with great one-liners and hilarious gems throughout. As it stands, the few laughs come from the performances of people making something out of nothing, there’s no sign of our usual indie hobo’s verbal dexterity or amusing honesty. Even Jersey Girl had that. Let’s not make any pun based on the title either, it’s far too easy a target provided by a guy who just doesn’t care what people throw at him anyway. And, for that, he still gets my grudging respect and the movie still gets a 5/10.
DIRECTOR: KEVIN SMITH
CAST: BRUCE WILLIS, TRACY MORGAN, KEVIN POLLAK, ADAM BRODY, SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT
RUNTIME: 107 MINS APPROX